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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

November 21, 2014 at 1:05 PM

White House officials to hear from Native students on Monday

The federal Department of Education will visit Seattle next week to hear from Native American students, their families and educators about ways to better meet the academic needs of Native American youth.

The listening tour had been planned for earlier this month by the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, but was abruptly cancelled out of respect for grieving families after the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, in which four students were fatally shot, and another injured, before gunman Jaylen Fryberg turned the weapon on himself. Fryberg was a member of the Tulalip Tribes.



November 21, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Videos: College students share struggles, triumphs at Education Lab event

On Nov. 15, five local college students appeared before an audience at the University of Washington to share their journeys of achieving college access despite significant challenges and set-backs. “Storytellers: How I Got into College” was hosted as part of the UW Dream Project’s Admissions Workshop Weekend, an annual event that brings dozens of high-school students from throughout King County to UW for assistance completing their college applications.

Go here for a written recap and photos from the evening’s program. Videos of each storyteller are posted below.

Jenée Myers Twitchell, director of the Dream Project, kicked off the event by sharing the story of her own upbringing in Yakima. “My story is filled with addicts,” she said. “Pretty much everybody in my family had gone through or needed to go through rehab.”

Her own struggles inspired her to begin working with local youth and start the Dream Project.

“I didn’t want it be about luck. I didn’t want getting to college to be about, ‘I just hope I meet the right person,'” she said.


Comments | More in News, Video, Your voices | Topics: Dream Project, storytellers, University of Washington

November 21, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Not a pretty picture: A call to action for black girls in school

Update, 11:05 a.m.: This post was updated to include information about students at Chief Sealth High School winning a film award related to race and education.

Across the country, educators are talking about new ways to handle student discipline, and while there is broad acknowledgement that punitive, zero-tolerance policies have fallen disproportionately on African-American boys, a recent report points out that black girls are suspended at a rate six times that of whites — and at rates that also surpass those for Latino, Asian and white boys.

Though research shows that they do not engage in more frequent or serious misbehavior than other groups, African-American girls account for 43 percent of all female students arrested at school. They constitute only 17 percent of the nation’s female students.

Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity,” authored by the National Women’s Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, highlights these facts and attempts to quantify some of the long-range costs.


Comments | More in News | Topics: discipline, race

November 20, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Round-up: Seattle pre-K program won’t include transportation, shooting at Florida State

Seattle preschool program won’t include transportation: Mayor Ed Murray says Seattle remains committed to a diverse mix of students in its subsidized preschool program, despite a lack of funds for bus transportation. Murray’s new Office of Education and Early Learning is set to present a detailed implementation plan for the program to the city council by Feb. 23.

Alumnus shoots three at Florida State University (AP): Three people were injured early Thursday morning after a Florida State University alumnus opened fire in the school’s library. The gunman was shot and killed by police.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

November 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

What’s new about Common Core tests? See for yourself

The room fell silent as heads bowed over test booklets.

I flipped to the first page and all the familiar anxieties flooded back. Will I have enough time? Will I second guess what I know is the right answer?

Relax, I told myself. I wasn’t in the school cafeteria sweating over a blue book, I was in a room of reporters, learning about the differences between old exams like the ones we took in middle school and a new set of exams aligned to the Common Core, which testing experts say measure a deeper level of thinking than ever before. The session was part of a conference on testing put on by the Education Writers Association, which Seattle Times reporter John Higgins and I attended this week.

We answered sample questions from a few different tests, including one from an old fourth-grade reading exam from an unidentified state, and another from the Smarter Balanced test, one of the two new tests based on Common Core learning standards. Roughly 20 states are starting to use Smarter Balanced, including Washington. (And you can do a little of the same, in the quiz at the end of this post.)


Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, Smarter Balanced, testing

November 19, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Round-up: Whitman investigated over Title IX compliance, college applicants clean up digital profiles

Whitman College joins list of schools investigated under Title IX: The private, liberal-arts college located in Walla Walla is one of 86 schools around the U.S. being investigated over the handling of sexual-violence and harassment complaints. A student who called The Seattle Times said she made the complaint after the college did not take disciplinary action against a student whom she accused of sexually assaulting her.

College applicants cleaning up their act on social media (The New York Times): College admissions officers say they are finding less incriminating material in the social-media pages of applicants. In a survey of 403 admissions officers, 35 percent said they had visited an applicant’s social-media profile, but just 16 percent said they found something that hurt the potential students’ chances of being admitted.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

November 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

On the agenda: Films, discussions on preschool, high-stakes testing

Boo Davis / The Seattle Times

Boo Davis / The Seattle Times

A number of education events will be held this week on early childhood education and standardized testing.

For those of you interested in both topics, we’re sorry to say that two of them are at about the same time this coming Thursday.

On pre-K: King County is hosting a free screening of “The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation,” the opening episode in a series that will air on PBS this spring. King County says the series will explore “the importance of investing in early childhood development.”

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on “what it takes to ensure King County is a community where young children thrive.” Panel participants will include King County Executive Dow Constantine, and early learning advocates and educators. 6 p.m. Thursday, Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, 400 S. 2nd St., Renton.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, on the agenda, testing

November 19, 2014 at 5:00 AM

UW students prepare to fight to keep tuition from rising

The University of Washington’s most politically astute students are gearing up for a major lobbying effort next year in Olympia to try to keep tuition from rising in 2015-16. They kicked off the effort Monday night at the UW with Gov. Jay Inslee as their dinner speaker.

The major focus of next year’s legislative session will be boosting K-12 funding, both because the state is under court order to pour more money into public schools, and because voters this month approved an initiative to reduce the number of students in public-school classrooms.

Gov. Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee

That’s made higher-education advocates nervous about the possibility of significant cuts to the state’s colleges and universities — cuts that would surely usher in major new tuition increases.

On Monday, the Associated Students of the University of Washington held their annual lobbying dinner in the Husky Union Building on campus, with more than a half-dozen legislators and the governor in attendance.

Inslee talked about going broke as a student at Stanford University, transferring to the University of Washington and squeaking through without having to take out loans. “I want to prevent your generation from being saddled with multi-decadal debt,” said Inslee, who noted that the average debt borne by the graduate of a Washington four-year college is now $22,560.


Comments | More in News

November 18, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Round-up: Common Core brings changes to reading lessons, mayor calls for collaboration with district

Common Core brings changes to reading instruction (NPR): Teachers like Amy Wertheimer in Washington, D.C., are shifting the way they teach reading in response to the new Common Core standards. In Wertheimer’s fifth-grade classroom, students read through nonfiction, “informational texts” together and answer comprehension-based questions as a group.

Mayor Murray calls for collaboration with district officials (KPLU): The Seattle City Council is set to approve a plan next week that would create a city Department of Education and Early Learning. “This isn’t about turf,”  Murray said during a “State of the District” speech Monday evening.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

November 18, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Education writers to test the tests — send us your questions on student assessment

Ever wonder how much you remember from your 11th grade math class?

Or how today’s standardized tests differ from the bubble sheets you filled out in middle school?

What about how teachers can explain complex ideas again and again in different ways until eventually, the concept sticks with a student?

These questions and more are behind a conference put on by the Education Writers Association, where fellow Seattle Times education reporter John Higgins and I will hear from experts on learning and testing over the next two days — and get to try out a few exam questions ourselves.


Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, testing

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